SEC Football: What We Know About Each Team After Five Weeks

Jeremy HillmanContributor IOctober 2, 2011

SEC Football: What We Know About Each Team After Five Weeks

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    Now that we have a full five weeks of stats, film and games to review, we are beginning to have a pretty solid picture of each team in the SEC.

    We can stop referring to preseason predictions and assumptions and begin to look at teams for what they actually are.

    We have had some surprises, some disappointments and some validations of what we thought about each Southeastern Conference team going into the season.

    Click through the slide show to see my breakdown of each team as they stand after Week 5. They are in the order of my power ranking of the conference...

Kentucky Wildcats

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    The Record: 2-3 (0-2 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Most everyone thought junior quarterback Morgan Newton could emerge as an effective quarterback for Kentucky this season. The opposite has been true, as Newton has struggled mightily and averages just 129 passing yards a game and has already thrown six interceptions on the year.

    The Good News: The passing defense has been solid. Safety Winston Guy is one of the top defensive backs in the SEC and leads a unit that is only allowing 163 passing yards per game. That ranks the Wildcats fourth in the conference in pass defense.

    The Bad News: The rush defense has been poor. The linebackers are having to make most of the plays, especially star LB Danny Trevathan, because the defensive line is having a tough time disrupting the run. The Wildcats are second to last in the SEC against the run, allowing right at 200 rushing yards per contest.

    Updated Bowl Projection: No Bowl

Ole Miss Rebels

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    The Record: 2-3 (0-2 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Many expected a huge year from dynamic running back Brandon Bolden. However, he had a minor injury early on and has not made much of an impact on the season. As a matter of fact, he has just 105 rushing yards after five games. With the quarterbacks struggling, Ole Miss could use help from Bolden and the running backs.

    The Good News: Special teams have been solid. The Rebels are second in the SEC in yards per punt (47 per punt) and have yet to miss a field goal on the season (3 for 3). They also lead the conference in punt return yards (31 yards per return).

    The Bad News: Sloppy play has been the norm for Ole Miss this season. For instance, the Rebels are dead last in the SEC in penalties per game, averaging over seven penalties per game for over 70 yards lost.

    Updated Bowl Projection: No Bowl

Vanderbilt Commodores

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    The Record: 3-1 (1-1 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: No one had Vanderbilt slotted for a bowl game this season. However, with three wins already, including a rout of Ole Miss two weeks ago, the Commodores have enough winnable games left on the schedule to potentially get to six wins and go bowling.

    The Good News: The Vanderbilt defense has been good every week. They rank fourth in the SEC in run defense, allowing an impressive 97 rush yards per game.

    Vanderbilt also leads the conference in interceptions, racking up 14 picks in just 5 games.

    The Bad News: The passing game has been poor. Quarterback Larry Smith only has three touchdown passes on the year and is averaging just 127 passing yards per game.

    Updated Bowl Projection: Liberty Bowl (Vanderbilt vs. Houston)

Mississippi State Bulldogs

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    The Record: 2-3 (0-3 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Talented wide receiver Chad Bumphis was expected to be a playmaker for the Bulldogs this season. Unfortunately for Mississippi State, Bumphis has made very few plays so far in 2011. He has just nine catches for 114 yards in all five games combined.

    The Good News: The running game has been solid. Except for a game against a dominate LSU defense, the Bulldogs have ran the ball effectively with big Vick Ballard. State averages a big 185 rushing yards per game.

    The Bad News: As good as the rush offense has been, the rush defense has been as bad. The Bulldogs are allowing opposing offenses 162 rushing yards per game.

    Updated Bowl Projection: Compass Bowl (Mississippi State vs. Rutgers)

Tennessee Volunteers

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    The Record: 3-1 (0-1 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Taureen Poole ran for over 1,000 yards last season and was poised for another big year in 2011. However, things have not gone well for Poole and the Tennessee running game, as he averages just 79 rush yards per game and had just 18 yards in the loss to Florida.

    The Good News: Quarterback Tyler Bray and the Tennessee passing game has been prolific. The Vols are second in the conference in passing yards per game with 336 passing yards per contest.

    The Bad News: As mentioned above, the running game has been anemic. Tennessee is dead last in the SEC in rush yards, gaining just 111 rushing yards per game. It's hard to win consistently in the SEC if you can't run the football.

    Updated Bowl Projection: Music City Bowl (Tennessee vs. North Carolina)

Georgia Bulldogs

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    The Record: 3-2 (2-1 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: There were questions in the preseason, and after the Boise State and South Carolina losses, about how strong the Georgia defense would be this season. Since then, the Bulldogs defense has been stellar and they now rank second in the SEC in total defense.

    The Good News: Because of attrition, Georgia had to go with a true freshman, highly regarded Isaiah Crowell, as the starter at running back. So far so good, as Crowell is averaging over 100 rushing yards per game.

    The Bad News: Injuries on the offensive line in the preseason may be the cause, but Georgia has allowed far too many sacks on talented quarterback Aaron Murray. The Georgia signal caller has already been sacked 13 times in the first five games (10th in the SEC for sacks allowed).

    Updated Bowl Projection: Chic-fil-a Bowl (Georgia vs. Virginia Tech)

South Carolina

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    The Record: 4-1 (2-1 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Many thought senior quarterback Stephen Garcia would have a big season for South Carolina, if he was allowed to play. So far, it isn't going so well. Garcia has played poorly and has nine interceptions to just four touchdowns in 2011.

    The Good News: Marcus Lattimore has proven to be a big weapon and is one of the best backs in the country. Lattimore is averaging 135 rushing yards per game and has nine touchdowns already.

    The Bad News: Alshon Jeffery is one of the better wide outs in the nation, but the Gamecocks have failed to get the ball in his hands often enough. The star wide receiver, being effected by Garcia's poor play, has just 19 catches in five games.

    Updated Bowl Projection: Gator Bowl (South Carolina vs. Penn State)

Auburn Tigers

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    The Record: 4-1 (2-0 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Everyone knew Auburn would miss Cam Newton and Nick Fairley, who are both off to the NFL. However, they may be missing linebacker Josh Bynes more than anyone. Linebacker play has been suspect, and Auburn could use a sure tackler like Bynes.

    The Good News: The running game, featuring star running back Michael Dyer, has been productive. The Tigers are averaging a big 187 rush yards per game.

    The Bad News: The run defense has been a problem. It was much better in Saturday's win over South Carolina, but Auburn still is last in the conference in stopping the run. They are giving up an awful 207 rushing yards per game.

    Updated Bowl Projection: Outback Bowl (Auburn vs. Michigan State)

Florida Gators

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    The Record: 4-1 (2-1 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Most prognosticators believed a healthy Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey could revive the Gator rushing offense. However, I am not sure anyone thought the combo would have combined for over 1,000 yards of offense and eight touchdowns in just five games.

    The Good News: The defense has been good for the Gators. Florida is second in the SEC in total defense, allowing just 258 offensive yards per game.

    The Bad News: The turnover ration has not been good for Florida so far in 2011. The Gators have turned the ball over nine times and have a minus-two ratio on the season. That puts them in second to last in that stat category.

    Updated Bowl Projection: Capital One Bowl  (Florida vs. Michigan)

Arkansas Razorbacks

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    The Record: 4-1 (0-1 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Many thought the Arkansas defense would be improved this season from what we had seen in years past. However, the Razorback defense is ranked a disappointing tenth in the conference in total defense, giving up 388 yards per game.

    The Good News: Quarterback Tyler Wilson is having a big season and is doing a solid job replacing previous starter Ryan Mallett. The junior quarterback is throwing for over 300 yards per game and already has 10 touchdown passes.

    The Bad News: As feared, losing starting running back Knile Davis to injury before the season has proven to make a significant impact on the Arkansas rush offense. The Razorbacks are averaging just 120 rushing yards per contest.

    Updated Bowl Projection: Cotton Bowl (Arkansas vs. Texas)

Alabama Crimson Tide

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    The Record: 5-0 (2-0 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: Everyone knew the Alabama defense and running game would be great this season. The surprise has been how well the passing offense has done. The Tide have passed for a solid 208 yards per game so far this season.

    The Good News: Trent Richardson is having the season coaches and fans were hoping for. In his first season as "the guy" at Bama, after waiting behind Mark Ingram the past two seasons, Richardson has ran for 622 yards in just five games and already has 10 touchdowns.

    The Bad News: Special teams haven't been so special, specifically the kicking. Alabama has missed three field goals already this year and ranks second to last in yards per punt.

    Updated Bowl Projection: Sugar Bowl (Alabama vs. Oklahoma)

LSU Tigers

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    The Record: 5-0 (2-0 in the SEC)

    What we missed on in the preseason: People said LSU was most likely out of the race for any championships when Jordan Jefferson was suspended and Jarrett Lee took over the reigns at quarterback. Since then, Lee has proven critics wrong and led LSU to a No. 1 national ranking.

    The Good News: The defense has been dominant, especially against the run. The LSU Tigers are only allowing opponents 60 rush yards per game.

    The Bad News: They have had a tough schedule and do have six interceptions, but the pass defense has been suspect at times for the Tigers. As a matter of fact, LSU ranks ninth in the SEC, giving up over 200 pass yards per contest.

    Updated Bowl Projection: BCS National Championship Game (LSU vs. Wisconsin)